Juniors get special Columbus Day hunting season

In spite of the New York Bowhunters Inc. which lobbied against it, the Department of Env­ironmental

Good news?

In spite of the New York Bowhunters Inc. which lobbied against it, the Department of Env­ironmental Conservation announced last Friday that junior hunters ages 14-15 will be able to hunt deer during a special youth firearms deer season on Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 6-8) in both the Northern and Southern zones.

I still do not understand how this group rep­resenting perhaps 4,000 members (bowhunters), which is less than 10 percent of the hunters in the New York hunting community, can have such an influence on the presentation of a law that, in this case, would affect more than 20,000 young hunters.

The young hunters will be required to have a current big game hunting license and will be allowed to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed adult with at least three years’ experience. The young hunters may use a Deer Management Permit (DMP) or Deer Management Assistance Program tag for an antlerless deer; or, during the youth firearms season only, they may use their regular-season tag to take a deer of either sex. For those “bowhunting only” areas like Westchester County and parts of Albany and Monroe counties, the junior hunters may only use bowhunting equipment to take deer during the youth season.

DEC commissioner Joe Martens had several very good comments on this new youth hunting season. He said, “Implementation of this youth deer hunt is a hallmark moment for New York hunters and represents continued efforts of DEC to engage more young people in nature and outdoor recreation.” And my favorite, “Bowhunting seasons remain open during the youth hunt, but I encourage bowhunters to set your bow aside for the weekend and be a mentor for a youth’s first firearms deer hunt.”

For full regulations for junior hunters and a mentoring permission form, go to page 35 of the “New York Hunting & Trapping 2012-13 Official Guide to Laws & Regul­ations.”

I would really like to see those who will be mentoring these junior hunters send me an email with the name of those who take a deer (buck or doe) and give me all the details for a special Buck Tales column. Send them to [email protected] If you would like to submit a photo of your young hunter’s success, email the photo with the hunter’s age, where shot, etc., to adkhunter.com.

Now New York finally has a complete youth hunting days schedule. Here are the dates and regulations for the others.


To participate in this early hunt, a junior hunter must be 12-15 years old, have a current license and be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. Only the junior hunters may carry firearms. A current (2011-2012) small game license is required for hunting in a WMU indicated in yellow in the regulations guide (page 41) on the weekend of Sept. 29-30. All other youth pheasant hunting weekends are in October and require a 2012-2013 license.

DEC said the pheasant population is at an all-time low, but there’s still a wild pheasant population in the western part of the state. To help the rest of us enjoy pheasant hunting, DEC annually stocks about 25,000 pheasants in eight regions, two of which are in our backyards or just a short ride away in Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselear, Schoharie, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Sar­atoga and Washington counties.

For a complete listing of all the regions with pheasant stocking and their exact locations, click here.

I think it’s important to get young hunters out to take advantage of the DEC-stocked pheasant areas the weekend before the regular season there opens. There’s definitely a good chance they’ll get at least a shot, and some will even get a bird.


The third fall/winter opportunity to expose our eager young hunters to the outdoors is the early waterfowl season. The five waterfowl hunting zones (Western, Northeast, Lake Champlain, Southeast and Long Island) each have a weekend youth season. All junior-licensed hunters may hunt ducks, coots, mergansers, Canada geese and brant on this weekend in these zones. The youth hunters do not need a federal duck stamp, but they must register with the Harvest Information Program either by telephone (888-427-5447) or online at www.ny-hip.com.

The waterfowl youth season was introduced by DEC in 1996 and has since introduced thousands of young hunters to waterfowl hunting. The Northeast Zone, which opens this weekend, consists of that area north of a continuous line extending from Lake Ontario east along the north shore of the Salmon River to I-81, then south to Route 31, east to Route 13, north to Route 49, east to Route 365, east to Route 28, east to Route 29, east to Route 22, north to Route 153, east to the New York-Vermont boundary, exclusive of the Lake Champlain Zone.

The Southeast Zone is south of that line and northwest of I-95 in Westchester County. This zone opens Sept. 29-30.

For full details on other waterfowl zones, click here.


Last weekend, the New York State 4-H Shooting Sports held a hunter education training program (Super Saturday) at its facility in Ballston Spa. The event attracted 184 participants, including 64 for firearms, 36 for archery, and what surprised me was that 84 took the trapping course. According to Bill Schwerd, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County and coordinator of the NYS 4-H Shooting Sports program, the majority were youth hunters, and there were a number of interested parents who attended with their kids.

Categories: Sports

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